The ballet Sylvia has undergone many reincarnations since its 1876 premier by the Paris Opéra Ballet. Some of the past two centuries’ most notable choreographers—Sir Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, Mark Morris and John Neumeier—have seemed inescapably drawn to creating their own versions of this ballet, as if it was an artistic scratch they simply had to itch. In this 2005 clip, Darcey Bussell dances the title role in Ashton’s revived version for The Royal Ballet.
It turns out that Queen Elizabeth was quite a fan—and friend—of Sir Frederick Ashton. A new book is publishing many of her private letters, including the one at right to the Royal Ballet choreographer. Check out her sketch of "ballet on a pinnacle"!